The New Zealand club have qualified for the finals for the first time since their inception which came in the 2007/08 season and now have the chance to host a home semi-final if they can defeat the Mariners in the final home and away match.
Coach Ricki Herbert said the 1-0 win over Gold Coast United at Skilled Park yesterday showed they are a team on the improve and with a top-four finish in their sights, anything can happen in the play-offs.
“We came here to win and that’s what we did. We were positive and we approached this as if it was a playoff match – we were up for it. Even though we knew we’d made the top six, it was clear what our intentions were and this win puts us in the driving seat for the top four and a home semifinal,” Herbert said.
“There was a lot riding on this match for us and for them and the Gold Coast is a tough place to come to. But everyone, from front to back, worked extremely hard in quite sapping conditions and played their part.”
The Phoenix next week return to Westpac Stadium were they have not lost since October 2008 and Herbert is expecting a decent crowd to get the team over the line and into a good position ahead of the finals series.
“It’s going to be a huge match and a huge occasion,” said Herbert. “I’m certain a big crowd will get a long and the team is really looking forward to that. It’ll be a piece of history and we want the fans to share in that,” he added.